After weeks of speculation, major upsets, and overtime thrillers, the College Football Playoff has finally been set. This Sunday afternoon, the College Football Playoff selection committee announced that the Universities of Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and Cincinnati would be advancing to the College Football Playoff, with Ohio State and Notre Dame narrowly missing out. For Michigan and Cincinnati, this will be a first appearance in the College Football Playoff, while Alabama and Georgia return for what almost seems like an annual spot in the semifinals.
Although this past weekend saw lots of drama in various conference championships games, from 4th and goals to clinch the game to fake slides, 3 of the 4 College Football Playoff teams easily brushed aside their opponents to claim their respective conference championships. In what came as a shock to most, Alabama handled a seemingly unbeatable Georgia, 41-24, to win the SEC championship behind an amazing performance from their Heisman trophy finalist quarterback Bryce Young. Young immaculately picked apart the experienced Georgia secondary, throwing for 421 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also rushing for another. This propelled Alabama to the number one seed in the playoffs.
Coming off the back of only their third victory over rivals Ohio State in the last 20 years, Michigan continued their excellent play with a dominating performance against Iowa in the Big 10 Conference championship game, winning 42-3. Much like in their win against Ohio State, Michigan’s power run game, which accounted for 211 yards on the ground, and excellent defense helped the Wolverines dictate the tempo of the game, culminating in a 28-0 run in the second half of the game. Michigan retained the number 2 spot in the play-offs and has made history as the first team to make the College Football Playoff after starting the year unranked in the AP poll.
After looking unstoppable all season, Georgia suffered their first loss of the year in the SEC championship game against Alabama. Nevertheless, Georgia’s near perfect season solidified their chances of staying in the top four, with the College Football Playoff committee slotting Georgia third in the rankings.
Finally, the Cincinnati Bearcats took care of business against a gritty Houston team to solidify their spot in the College Football Playoff by winning the AAC Championship game 35-20. Led by a terrific effort from running back Jerome Ford, which saw the junior rush for 187 yards and two touchdowns, and the Senior leadership and experience of veteran quarterback Desmond Riddler. Cincinnati fell one spot in the rankings, setting up their matchup with SEC champions, Alabama. Nevertheless, Cincinnati has made history as the first non-Power five teams in the CFP-era to qualify for the Playoff. Cincinnati will come in as a big underdog and will face threetime College Football Playoff Champions in Alabama.
In the semifinals of the playoffs, number one seed Alabama will be playing against number four seed Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, December 31st at 3:30 pm EST. Following the conclusion of the Cotton Bowl, number two seed Michigan will face off against third seeded Georgia in the Orange Bowl at 7:30 EST.